04 May 2017

The True Origin of the Flail Snail?

Of the many strange and absurd creatures included in the original AD&D Fiend Folio, perhaps none has been more often mocked and ridiculed than the poor 'flail snail'. Personally, I've always had a bit of a soft spot (er...) for the monster, as it strikes me as a perfect example of the whimsical 'a-wizard-did-it' approach that was employed in the construction of so many classic AD&D beasts.

But perhaps the flail snail has some historical legitimacy? Apparently, as this Vox video explains, Medieval illuminated texts often included pictures of knights fighting snails in their margins...


  1. i assumed they were from that era where dnd and RQ overlapped

    owlbear = jack o bear
    flail snail = dragonsnail

  2. Except that at least in the case of the Owlbear and the Jack-o-Bear there is little resemblance between the two creatures. The owlbear, a fusion of bear and owl, derives from a cheap plastic toy. The jack-o-bear is a chaos creature with the body of a bear and a pumpkin like head.

    Similarly dragonsnails and flail snails are quite different creatures, the former being a giant snail with the head(s) of a dragon.

    Many of the Fiend Folio monsters were fan created stats for monsters that first appeared as miniatures. I don't know if the flail snail was one of these.

  3. There is a picture labeled a "bugbear" in the Original D&D books with a shaggy body and jack-o'-lantern head. I always assumed that the jack-o-bear was based on that.


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.